The best ground coffee and ESE pad espresso coffee machines 

Last updated Jan 25, 2021 at 4:25PM | Published on Jan 25, 2021

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First, what’s the difference between a pod, pad, or capsule coffee machine ?

Coffee Pod vs Coffee Pad

 

Pods and capsules usually plastic and / or aluminium. ( If you’re also thinking paper here, check out our ESE pod vs pad below ). You’ll find that the seal on the pods or capsules makes them airtight, so that the coffee stays fresh.

Pads are made of filter paper and are usually looser ( like tea-bags). You can buy the pads now, known as ESE pads, online and in many supermarkets. The Phillips Senseo is one of the main machines that uses the pads. The quality of the coffee in the pre-packaged pod, pad or capsule is extremely important and we find the coffee in these loose pads make a much weaker coffee.

 

The idea of all of these is to provide a simple, easy, pre-measured little package of one or two portions of coffee. You put it into your machine, press a 1 or 2 cup button and hey presto, the machine punctures the package and pushes hot water through it to give you an instant cup of coffee.

This makes these type of machines really easy to use and maintain, as there is no mess to clean up. The used pods or capsules are often stored in a container for you ( maybe 10 – 15 at a time) and every now and then you just empty the  wee container into the bin ( the recycling bin hopefully !)

What do they look like? When we say capsules when usually mean flat aluminium packets.

 

ESE Pads vs ESE Pods

Now this is where this may be some confusion.

In the UK and Europe we say PODS when we mean the plastic bucket shaped pods with foil lids, and PADS when we mean the paper covered coffee portions. However there are two types of these filter paper pads.

  1. one that is looser like a tea-bag ( for the Senseo type machines) or what we should say is that the pad is bigger so the coffee isn’t as tightly packed
  2. one that is smaller to fit in special portafilters within the pump pressurized type of espresso machines. In other parts of the world, the smaller, more tightly packed paper pad can be called an E.S.E. POD !

So, in summary, do check the size in mm, and the picture to see how tightly packed they are. If in doubt, only buy the ones recommended by your machine manufacturer.

 

Phillips Senseo Coffee machine

Philipps produce a really well marketed popular machine called the Senseo. You pop the pad ( a single or a 2 cup pad ) into a little filter dish to match the size, close the top and press start for 1 or 2 cups full. These pads are usually a different size to the ones that fit in a manual pump espresso machine portafilter.

We’ve also tried many many Senseo machines in apartment rentals over the last few years,  but the quality of the coffee depends completely on the make of the pads used. We also found we needed to always use two pads , or a 2 cup pad, to get a decent strength for a single cup. Its a very reasonably priced machine, looks great , easy to get pads for in the supermarket and easy to use. It’s pretty good on taste, but not at all as great as an espresso machine pulled pad. They’re more expensive of course. We’ve listed our favourite 3 of these below.

 

BEST ESE PAD espresso machine

 

The POD machines probably cost you ( and the planet ) more per coffee than any other, as we also need to save the planet from over use of plastic ! So let’s also not forget the ‘pad’ coffee machines where the coffee is wrapped in paper not plastic. So they are similar, but without the need for plastic pods or aluminium capsules. 

 

We’ve already listed some great entry level machines in our manual espresso section, and we would re-iterate here that they are really good choices to get you started on that route of choosing your own filter coffee and then even finally getting a machine to grind it yourself and then feed it directly into your espresso making machine.

So the Smeg ECF01 and teh De ‘Longhi Scultura are both based on the same machine as the De longhi dedica ( shown below ). They all take the tightly packed ESE pads ( or pod as it might be called in Australia) . You can see these machines on our manual espresso machine page. So it’s a great machine to start you off,  nice and convenient and no mess with the paper pads / pods – but then it takes ground coffee too, so you can start looking for your perfect grind and play at being a barista too!

We’ve already listed some great entry level machines in our manual espresso section, and we would re-iterate here that they are really good choices to get you started on that route of choosing your own filter coffee and then even finally getting a machine to grind it yourself and then feed it directly into your espresso making machine.

The Smeg ECF01 based on the De longhi dedica ( shown above) both take the tightly packed ESE pads ( or pod as it might be called in Australia) . You can see these machines on our manual espresso machine page. So it’s a great machine to start you off,  nice and convenient and no mess with the paper pads / pods – but then it takes ground coffee too, so you can start looking for your perfect grind and play at being a barista too!

We have a commercial Nespresso machine left over from our hotel days, but if we were to start again on the simple machine, quick, convenient coffee route – we would go for this one.  You can see the other machines we had, and our favourites in all categories on our main coffee machine page. 

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